New EEMBC Benchmark Measures Android Speed
“I don’t always benchmark my Android devices. But when I do, I prefer AndEBench-Pro.” – The Most Boring Man in the World Benchmarking, like economics, is a dismal science. Both are important and both are more complicated than the casual observer may expect. EEMBC is an expert at one of these.
The Embedded Microprocessor Benchmark consortium (the second E is purely decorative) is a nonprofit group approaching its 20th birthday. The merry band of benchmarkers has expanded beyond its original remit of creating tiny benchmark kernels for stressing CPU cores, and it now offers a whole catalog of benchmarks large and small for just about anything. There’s an automotive benchmark, a Web browser benchmark, and now two different Android benchmarks.
Changing the World with Cell Phones?
Deciding what to write about for EEJournal is difficult. It is not that there is a lack of stories, but picking just one topic out of the many that are competing for my attention every day is sometimes close to impossible. But occasionally there are signals that just cannot be ignored. In the last few days these signals have all been pointing at wireless.
The biggest single signal was the Cambridge Wireless "Future of Wireless" conference. Cambridge Wireless is a community (its word – not mine) of "nearly 400 companies across the globe interested in the development and application of wireless and mobile technologies to solve business problems". Within the community, there is an active programme of events, many organised by one or more of the twenty Special Interest Groups (SIGs).
While top-flight bed & breakfasts would no doubt do a world of good for many IoT developers, the “B&B” in the title refers to BANDWIDTH and BATTERIES. Given all the ink spilled on IoT, these are two topics that do not receive the attention they deserve. The third important yet underserved topic is IoT security, and that will get a separate article of its own.
IoT bandwidth falls into the growing category of “challenges that need to be solved, and the sooner the better.” Many IoT devices rely on Bluetooth (BT), which will work until it doesn’t and that point is rapidly approaching. BT was invented and has evolved as a reasonable solution for a personal area network (PAN). The prime use model is your mobile phone and earpiece, heart-rate monitor, fitness band, cycling cadence-speed sensor, smartwatch, and the like.
New MEMS Accelerometers from mCube are World’s Smallest
Most startups have no product. This one has shipped 60 million products before coming out of stealth mode.
Say hello to mCube, probably the most successful chipmaker you’ve never heard of. In keeping with the company’s low profile, mCube makes little bitty motion sensors. Accelerometers, magnetometers, and even teensy gyroscopes. Most of those little chips have been sold to Chinese cellphone makers, but the company hopes that its fortunes will soon change.
Cellphones are just the beginning, says mCube CEO Ben Lee. The real volume is in the “Internet of Moving Things (IoMT).” (Oh, good, another marketing initialism. At least they’ve got that part of the startup strategy figured out.)
Will the IoT Use the Desktop or Cellphone Model?
It’s like we have two separate brains, and only one of them can be on at a time.
In one brain, we deal with desktop and laptop computers. These are machines we use to do work. (Well, they used to be until content consumption via tablets looked tempting, and then all computers had to be that, making it harder to do actual work. But that’s a separate topic.)
The work we do on our own computers is considered to be our private business. We connect the computers to the internet in order to get information or talk to other computers or buy stuff or whatever. Historically, it was an “option” to connect, but these days, it’s pretty much only black networks that have no outside access. For the most part, all desk- and laptops are connected.
I should probably start here by laying out my biases. I’m not a shopper. And when I shop, I like to be left alone until I need (and ask for) help. I think my worst shopping experience was in Shanghai at one of the markets where they hawk all manner of (probably counterfeit) goods. For someone like me (especially if you’re feeling moderately ill, as I was), it was like shopping hell – “Hey DVD!” “Hey watch!” People shouting from all directions, pulling on your sleeve, vying for your affections. (OK, just kidding – vying for your money.)
In these cases, I like to subscribe to the philosophy that some CEOs and other self-styled god-like humans do: Don’t speak to me until I speak to you first. Except that, for me, it’s not because I think I’m all that; it’s because I want to shop in peace.
We Explore PowerByProxi and Cota
Not long ago, we looked at wireless power. And we looked at some of the standards and conflicts underway as companies and technologies vie for best position. And it looked like a simple two-sided issue, with the eventual winner not yet clear.
Well, turns out there’s even more going on, some of it in places we rarely visit. I’ve run across two more wireless power stories, and they’re different from what we’ve seen and from each other. In an attempt to find a unifying theme as I bring them into the discussion, the common denominator seems to be their ability to “aim” their power at a device that needs charging.
Let’s back up, however, and start with a quick review.
Sensor Platforms and ARM Propose Framework
It might just be the end of another lurch.
Technology doesn’t evolve in a smooth, continuous fashion. Someone has an idea for something totally new and makes it happen. And someone else sees that idea and thinks, “OK, that’s pretty cool, but I have a better way to do it.” And someone else looks on, shakes her head at the pitiful, primitive attempts underway and puts forth yet another approach that does its tricks even more efficiently and elegantly.
And so, from that original brainstorm comes a flurry of innovation. Each modification benefits from hindsight, having in hand the results of those that came before. This goes on for a while until some asymptote is approached and the activity level mellows out. And then, sometime hence, yet another new brainstorm occurs, and the process repeats.
What’s Google’s New Modular Smartphone Really About?
It would be easy to blow off Google’s “Project Ara” modular smartphone concept as just another one of those Google science fair projects that will never come to anything. Remember “Google Wave” anyone? Yeah, we were all “waving” bye-bye to that one before it ever got off the ground. As engineers, we all know that only one out of every dozen or more cool technology ideas ever comes to anything interesting. But, Google’s propensity for over-funding lots of blue-sky projects just to see if anything sticks is well known, and it is a fertile breeding ground for highly-public failures.
The marketing for Ara doesn’t help much either. Billed as the “smartphone for the next five billion people,” the marketing concept just doesn’t hold water. The implication is that all those people out there who currently don’t have a smartphone (you know the ones) have been just waiting around patiently until somebody gave them a phone they could customize with various application processors, wireless modules, memories, screens, cameras, and accelerometers. Hmmm… Just take a quick poll of the folks you know who don’t yet have a smartphone. Think it’s because they really really want the quad-core? Yeah, me neither.
Inside Project Ara
A coup d'état is imminent. A mobile revolution. With "Modular!" banners held high and money where their mouths are, Google is marching through the streets determined to overthrow the status quo in smartphone technology. This week’s Fish Fry is all about Google’s Project Ara - why it's cool, why you should care about this modular smartphone technology, and how you can get started designing your OWN modules. My guests are Ara Knaian (NK Labs) and David Rutledge (CTO - Lattice Semiconductor) and we are going to talk about what's inside the Google Ara phone, the important role of FPGAs, and why Ara lent his name to this super cool new project. Also this week, we take a tour of Xilinx’s Vivado IDE and break the biggest news to hit the EE airwaves.